The most serious risk from HPV is cancer. Although not all strains of HPV cause cancer, the high-risk strains can cause cancers of the:

  • Cervix
  • Anus
  • Mouth
  • Penis
  • Vulva

Partners and Re-infection

If you are diagnosed with HPV, there is a high likelihood that your partner has been exposed. However, this should not be assumed and condom use should become standard in your sexual activities. Like other viruses, it is possible to carry one strain of HPV and be infected with another, so you are still at risk of further infections.

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As HPV itself has no obvious symptoms and cannot in fact be cured (though recent studies show that those with vary healthy immune systems might eventually be rid of HPV), you are never free from the disease, and as such recurrence is a misnomer. For those with strains of HPV that cause genital warts, recurrence of warts is very common: 20-50% of those infected will see a recurrence of the warts.

Mark Riegel, MD

Quick snapshot

Can it be cured?

Yes. Viruses don't have cures, but symptoms can be controlled with proper treatment.

Type of Infection

Viral. The human papillomavirus is the cause of the infection.

How is it treated?

The virus itself has no treatment. However, various treatments exist for the genital warts it sometimes causes.

Recovery Time

As there is no treatment for the virus, it will most likely be carried for life, and thus there is no time line for recovery.

Can I have sex?

Yes. However, partners should be informed of your condition and condoms should always be used.

Can I get re-infected?

Yes. There are many strains of HPV and even if you carry one strain, you can still be infected with another.